Friday, April 24, 2009

FAMILY COURTS: NEW RULES WON’T CREATE OPEN, TRANSPARENT SYSTEM

I have just received this News Release from Resolution:

FAMILY COURTS: NEW RULES WON’T CREATE OPEN, TRANSPARENT SYSTEM

New rules to open family courts to the media rushed in by the government represent a missed opportunity to allow thorough and effective public scrutiny, family lawyer’s group Resolution warned today, as it called for the establishment of a Family Courts’ Inspectorate.

From Monday accredited journalists will be allowed to attend divorce, custody and care proceedings, unless the court has specifically excluded them. But the new rules still will not allow journalists to report on what they hear in court and cases not considered newsworthy will be completely without public scrutiny.

“These changes simply tinker at the edges of the issue and have created a system which could well make matters worse when members of the public and press realise that details of cases cannot be made public,” said Andrew Greensmith, Resolution’s spokesperson on family court transparency.

“Greater openness and transparency has an important part to play in ensuring public confidence in the family court system, but simply allowing the media to sit in on cases is not enough. The new rules need to be extended to allow journalists to report what they see and hear in court, providing the identity of the families involved is protected.

“Resolution is calling on the government to set up a ‘Family Courts’ Inspectorate’, made up predominantly of lay people, which could act as an effective guardian of standards in the family courts. Otherwise the risk is that only those cases that are ‘newsworthy’ will be subject to any public scrutiny,” said Andrew Greensmith.

5 comments:

  1. What do you feel about this John?

    Do you think that 'openness and transparency' will ensure public confidence? What about families who are the subject of proceedings? I not sure they will necessarily feel that the children involved will be being suitably protected if the media and journalists are allowed in. I wonder how these rules will provide these protections...

    I'm going to keep following this story

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  2. The new rules, however, do allow me to do a lot more practical work on accountability. Which I am working on now.

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  3. CBC: Personally, I'm not convinced either that the courts should be opened up at the behest of the media, or that these reforms will make much difference. The proof, as ever, will be in the eating.

    John: I'm sure you are! I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

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  4. Nick Langford26 April 2009 09:01

    At last! A genuinely constructive suggestion.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Parents will still be gagged and sent to prison if they exercise their right of "free speech"
    Teenage children in care will still be gagged and punished if they speak out about abuse by carers or protest against seperation from parents and siblings.
    The overwhelming power of the State led by Jack Straw will still crush all open dissent !

    ReplyDelete

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